Making Memorable Meet and Greets
For many, meeting a beloved character is a highlight of any trip to Disney World. While rides and shows are great, they fall short when it comes to delivering a personal experience. A character meet-and-greet allows guests a few moments of individual attention with a special Disney character. A quick chat, photo, autograph, and a warm hug offer a meaningful experience. Below are a few tips to give you better and more meaningful character meeting experiences.
Times Guide - When you enter the Disney parks, be sure to grab a copy of the free ‘Times Guide’. The guides will be located with the maps at the front of the park (as well as at the registers of some of the larger stores on property). The Times Guide will list characters that are regularly scheduled to be in the park each day, as well as the time and location of their appearance.
PhotoPass - Many character greetings have a dedicated PhotoPass photographer to capture your memories. On certain occasions, you may want to have a full family photo and there is no PhotoPass photographer present….feel free to ask a nearby guest or a cast member to take a photo with your camera. They are used to doing this and are happy to help! *Consult with your Authorized Disney Vacation Planner from On The Road Travel about purchasing Memory Maker in advance to save money.* You can also learn more about it in this post.
Everybody Line Up - If there is a character you want to see and you know where the meeting place and time will be, line up before the character arrives! Nothing will draw a line at Disney World like a character! Arriving a few minutes early and hanging around or waiting in line before the character appears can save you quite a bit of time. Additionally, if there is a character you really want to spend some time with, it is worth standing in line to get the experience (you won’t regret it).
Dressing Up - It’s a real treat for your little one to have Disney Princess dresses to wear during the visit. Cast Members may call them "princess" and give them extra attention. Pictures with the princesses look great when everyone is dressed as a princess (especially when your child is dressed as the princess she is meeting). Purchasing the Disney Princess outfit prior to your visit will allow you an opportunity to look for deals. If you enjoy pictures of your child dressed the same as a character, consider bringing extra outfits and changing prior to meeting the Disney characters.
Character Interaction – One of the best ways to make the make the most of your time with a Disney character is by engaging/participating in the experience of the meet-and-greet with them. Think about what would get a Disney character to interact/play along with you. Don’t just get your picture taken, autograph book signed, and head for the exit… the characters want to have some fun with you! Give Belle a hearty “Bonjour!” and ask her what book is she reading. Ask Ariel how Prince Eric is doing, ask Merida how do you learn to be so good at archery, ask Rapunzel how long it takes to wash her hair, see if Elsa will tell you if Olaf’s hugs are really warm… you get the idea!
Schedule It - Be sure plan the meet-and-greet of your children’s most desired character meet early in the trip… as early in the day as possible. This will generate excitement and create a great experience. It will also ensure that your child will not look exhausted or potentially uninterested in their favorite picture! When you look in the mirror on day 5, you will understand what we mean!
Fastpass+ to Meet Disney Characters - Some don't always recommend using a Fastpass+ reservation for a character meeting. With that said, many realize everyone visiting the Magic Kingdom does not want to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. If there is a character that your little one must see, then it is likely worth the reservation if one is available (standby meeting times for Mickey or Tinker Bell at Town Square Theater can be around 45+ minutes). When It comes down to it, children can get tired, shy, nervous, impatient, hot, hungry, etc… a Fastpass+ reservation can solve the potential meltdown. *A quick reminder... face characters are less intimidating, so keep that in mind*
Star Wars Launch Bay - When you are at Hollywood Studios, be sure to clear some time to get up-close-and-and personal with your favorite Rebel or Sith Lord. The interactive show “Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple” is a must-do for children (especially those who dream of becoming a Jedi). The show features appearances by popular Star Wars characters and is scheduled throughout the day. Parents can sign their children up to be a part of the show at the Indiana Jones Adventure Outpost (located between the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular and the ’50s Prime Time Cafe).
Surprise Guest - Be on the lookout for "unlisted" characters. Not all of the Disney characters or character meeting spots are listed in the Times Guide. You can often find the Fairy Godmother along with Anastasia and Drizella behind Cinderella Castle, near the Cinderella fountain. If there are two characters using the same meeting spot, but switching off every half-hour, you can be the first in line to see the next character if you tell the cast member assisting the characters that you want to do this. For example, while other guests are seeing Drizella and Anastasia, check with the assisting cast member about being the first to see Fairy Godmother (who would be coming out next). They will likely tell you to wait at the end of the line and to allow people to go ahead of you until the cast member gives you a signal.
Picture Perfect - When it comes time for the photo, don't settle for a boring pose of you standing with your hands by your side next to your character. There are plenty of opportunities for unique poses! If you do not have an idea of how you want to stand, the character assistants will help you with ideas that will make your photos look amazing.
Autographs - Many characters often wear bulky gloves which make gripping writing instruments a bit of a challenge. It can be helpful if you provide them with a somewhat chunky pen, perhaps a Sharpie marker. There are a few characters who are happy to meet you and pose for photos, but are unable to sign autographs.
Dining – Character meals are a great opportunity for meeting many characters at once. You will meet characters in air-conditioned comfort and you get to “kill two birds with one stone” - eating and character meet-and-greet - at the same time. Your time with the characters is often limited, so keep that in mind. With 40+ tables to cover, they are unable to linger with you for too long. If you desire more time with a character, look into meeting them in their ‘meet & greet’ location. *Character dining is an in-depth topic all on its own. Be sure to consult with your Vacation Planner from On The Road Travel for tips on how to choose the right character meal for your family and for ideas about how to get the most out of your character dining experience!*
You are all set for meet-and-greets with your favorite Disney characters. Be sure to be have a great attitude with others while waiting in line, listen to the requests of the cast members, enjoy the experience, and most importantly - smile for the camera!